School History

Rose Hill Elementary School opened on September 3, 1957. Our school originally had 20 classrooms and an opening enrollment of 482 students. Rose Hill was built on land that was formerly part of a farm. When our school opened the Rose Hill neighborhood was only a few years old. There was no John Marshall Library next door and there were no houses across the street.

Black and white photograph of Rose Hill Elementary School taken in 1958 as part of a fire insurance survey for the Fairfax County School Board. The photograph was taken by someone sitting in a car on Rose Hill Drive looking up the hill toward the school. There are a few homes visible in the distance behind the school.
Rose Hill Elementary School, 1958

Rose Hill Elementary School's first principal was Rose S. Rogers. During the 1950s, there were no school counselors, physical education teachers, or music teachers. Physical education was taught by classroom teachers in their rooms or through structured play outside. Music instruction was held in a small activity room that also doubled as a storage space for physical education equipment.  

Black and white photograph that appeared in the Alexandria Gazette newspaper on May 25, 1978. The photograph shows three individuals, William Jack Burkholder, Rose S. Rogers, and Joseph B. Hucks, standing outside Rose Hill Elementary School.
Pictured at center is Rose Hill's first principal, Rose S. Rogers (1957-60), on the occasion of our school's 20th anniversary celebration in May 1978. To the right is Rose Hill's fourth principal, Joseph B. Hucks (1965-78), and on the left is William J. "Jack" Burkholder who was the Superintendent of FCPS from 1982-85. 

The Baby Boom

Rose Hill Elementary School opened during the post-World War II period known as the baby boom. In September 1952, there were 20,200 students enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) at 42 schools. By December 1959, that number would climb to 54,100 students at 84 schools. FCPS administrators had been projecting record enrollment growth for several years, but were unprepared when actual growth far exceeded their expectations. From September 1957 to September 1960, enrollment at Rose Hill skyrocketed from 482 to 672 students. Enrollment peaked at 766 students in June 1963, then gradually fell to around 600 during the late 1960s. 

Two undated color photographs taken during the 1970s showing Field Day activities at Rose Hill Elementary School. Both photographs were taken outdoors and show the building in the distance. The children are playing on the playground and participating in athletic challenges of some sort.
Field Day at Rose Hill Elementary, 1970s


During the decade of the 1960s several major changes happened in the public schools of Fairfax County. In 1960, FCPS opened its first intermediate schools. Prior to this time, elementary schools educated children in grades 1-7, and high school consisted of grades 8-12. Seventh graders from Rose Hill were assigned to the newly built Mark Twain Intermediate School.  

Black and white aerial photograph of Mark Twain Intermediate School taken during the 1960s.
Mark Twain Intermediate School, Opened 1960

When Rose Hill opened, public schools in Virginia were segregated by race. In the early 1960s, FCPS began a slow process of desegregation, culminating at the end of the 1965-66 school year. Prior to this time, African-American children living in our area were bused to Drew-Smith Elementary School, an all-African-American school located at Gum Springs on Route 1.

Black and white photograph of Drew-Smith Elementary School. The building is a single-story concrete structure with a brick veneer. It has much fewer classrooms and fewer amenities than the schools built for white children during this time period.
Drew-Smith Elementary School closed in 1965 and was converted into a special education center. Courtesy of the Virginia Room, Fairfax County Public Library.

In 1965, almost every former all-African-American FCPS elementary school ceased operation (one notable exception is Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna). These schools were located in predominantly African-American enclaves, necessitating the busing of students out of these neighborhoods to formerly all-white schools. In 1968, the Fair Housing Law was passed, eliminating racial barriers to homeownership. Rose Hill's student body remained largely Caucasian until the 1970s, by which time the effects of the passage of the Fair Housing Law began to be evident in Fairfax County’s suburbs.

Color class photograph from the 1973 to 1974 school year showing Mrs. Williams' fourth grade class. There are 30 students pictured, mostly girls. Nearly all of the children are Caucasian except for one African-American child and one Asian child. Mrs. Williams is standing in the back left corner. She is wearing a pink, black, and white striped jacket over a green turtleneck shirt.
Rose Hill Elementary, Grade 4 Class Photograph, 1973-74


Did you know that when Rose Hill opened there were no kindergarteners in our school? A kindergarten program was piloted in several schools in 1967 and proved so successful that one year later FCPS implemented kindergarten county-wide. FCPS enrolled approximately 8,000 children in kindergarten in September 1968.  

Black and white photograph from the cover of Rose Hill Elementary School's 1982 to 1983 yearbook showing a group of students playing jump rope on the sidewalk. Ten girls are pictured, five of whom are waiting along the wall for their turn. Three girls are in mid-air as two other girls swing the rope beneath them.
Rose Hill Elementary School Yearbook Cover Photograph, 1982-83

Renovations and Additions

Rose Hill Elementary School was designed in 1955 by the architecture firm of Willgoos and Chase. Our school originally had 20 classrooms, a library, administrative offices, a clinic, and a cafeteria. Rose Hill was built by the Reid Construction Company at a cost of $507,150. The first addition to our school was built from 1970-71 by the White Construction Company. A gymnasium, music room, and seven classrooms were added at a cost of $521,720, increasing the building capacity from 600 to 810 students. Rose Hill received its first building-wide renewal from 1992-93, and a second addition was constructed in 1999-00.

Color photograph of Rose Hill Elementary School taken in 1993. A school bus is parked in front of the building.
Prior to the 1993 building renewal, Rose Hill Elementary School had no central air conditioning. This photograph was taken shortly after the renewal began. Window-mounted air conditioning units are still visible on some of the classrooms.
Color photograph of Rose Hill Elementary School taken in 1994. The large banks of windows have been removed and have been replaced by smaller energy-efficient windows. The exterior brick-work has been updated and covered over in places with a new facade. The first story awning is painted a bright blue.
This photograph, from our 1993 to 1994 yearbook, shows the renovated exterior of our school. Note the significant changes to the classroom windows and exterior facade.

Virginia Hills Elementary School

From the mid-1970s into the early 1980s, student enrollment began a gradual decline resulting in the closure of several schools in the eastern part of Fairfax County. The closures affected neighborhoods that saw the earliest growth post-World War II. The children in these neighborhoods were graduating high school, and there were fewer families in the area with young children. By May 1978, enrollment at Rose Hill had fallen to 365 students.  In January 1982, the School Board voted to close nearby Virginia Hills Elementary School permanently and consolidate its student body into Rose Hill beginning in September 1982.

Black and white photograph of Virginia Hill Elementary School from this school’s 1971 to 1972 yearbook. The building is two-stories tall with an office suite near the main entrance. The building's egg-crate design, as described by architects, is very similar to Mount Eagle Elementary School which opened during the same time period.
Virginia Hills Elementary School, 1972

After Virginia Hills closed, the building was designated the FCPS Area I Office. Our library maintains a small selection of Virginia Hills memorabilia, such as school yearbooks, photographs, newspaper clippings, and a history written by its P.T.A.  

Composite image showing a newspaper clipping related to Virginia Hills Elementary School's 10th anniversary, a photograph of the school's first principal, and a photograph of the cover of Virginia Hills' 1971 to 1972 yearbook. The yearbook has a plain white cover with a green bar in the center with the word Classbook beneath it. On the green bar are abstract figures representing people, similar to paper dolls. The article on the left is from the Alexandria Gazette newspaper and was published on Monday, November 8, 1965. The title reads Virginia Hills Elementary to Celebrate 10th Birthday. Only a small portion of the article is shown. It reads: Virginia Hills Elementary School celebrates its tenth anniversary tomorrow with a student organized program in the school auditorium at 8 p.m. Among those who have been invited as honored guests are past PTA presidents Ray P. Schall, Howard Knoer, Les Tate, Frank Jost, Patrick Murphy, Mrs. Nita Kent, Mrs. Delores Sheldon, Mrs. Nancy Wilke and Roland Rantz. The Virginia Hills building was finished August 19, 1955, at a cost of $20,125 per classroom, and an additional $22,875 for improvements to the school property. The organizational PTA meeting was held in Groveton School that night with 250 parents attending. Ray P. Schall was elected president and later presided at the first regular meeting Sept. 16 of that year. The school was dedicated Nov. 6 in a program that included W. T. Woodson, then superintendent of Fairfax County schools; J. R. Rice, assistant superintendent of schools; Harry A. Lee, of the county school board; and E. M. Day, Virginia Hill's first and present principal.
The gentleman pictured at center is Virginia Hills Elementary School's first principal, Emmett Milton Day. On the right is the cover of Virginia Hills' 1971-72 yearbook.  

Swim and Stay Fit

In the late 1960s, Rose Hill Elementary School students began receiving swimming and water safety instruction as part of their regular physical education program. Principal Joseph Hucks, Jean Medford (a Red Cross swimming instructor), Gladys Thomas and Mike Wells (physical education teachers), and Meadowview Pool partnered to introduce the "Swim and Stay Fit Program" at Rose Hill. The program made it possible for every child to learn basic swimming skills, and encouraged children to improve their physical fitness through swimming.

Black and white photograph of a group of about 41 students, boys and girls, standing in front of the entrance to Rose Hill Elementary School. The children are wearing bathing suits and holding towels. A female teacher is standing at the back of the group.
The swimming program was also described by the Red Cross as a "drown-proofing" measure to teach children about water safety.  

The Virginia Wright Library

Our library is named for Rose Hill Elementary School's first librarian, Virginia Wright. Miss Wright retired in 1976, and in May of that year the Fairfax County School Board passed a resolution naming our library in her honor. The School Board praised Miss Wright for her years of faithful and loyal service to Rose Hill and for her dedication to inspiring children to read and enjoy good books and other forms of literature as an aid to their educational development.

Color photograph, taken around 1980, showing six children standing in front of the main entrance to Rose Hill Elementary School. The children are smiling and giggling.
Rose Hill Elementary Students, Circa 1980

What's in a Name?

Do you know why our school is named Rose Hill? Learn about the origin of our school's name in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.   

Black and white photograph from the cover of Rose Hill Elementary School's 1983 to 1984 yearbook showing a group of students walking up the sidewalk toward the entrance of the school after having been dropped off by their school buses. Two buses are visible on the right.
Rose Hill Elementary School Yearbook Cover Photograph, 1983-84

Our Principals

Between 1957 and 2018, Rose Hill Elementary School had 12 principals, most of whom are pictured below in the slideshow. We have been unable to find photographs of two principals: Carlene D. March (1960-64) and Walter L. Sickles (1964-65).